Unprecedented times for companies facing anti
May 23, 2023
The controversy illustrates the unpredictability and arbitrariness of online flare-ups often driven partially or entirely by misinformation
WASHINGTON – The precipitous rise of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in America has increasingly put corporate allies in the crosshairs of fraught culture war battles, creating unprecedented challenges for firms as they navigate business decisions during Pride month.
Concerns follow recent cases in which Target Corp. and Anheuser-Busch InBev suffered financial and reputational damage – first, when their outreach to LGBTQ customers provoked backlash, and again when the companies backed down in response to their anti-LGBTQ critics.
How should firms approach Pride month promotions in a climate where even the most minor or anodyne move can inspire right-wing calls for boycotts, or even threats of violence? What obligations do companies have to their LGBTQ customers, many of whom have long objected to brands’ tendency to offer performative demonstrations of support for the community to boost their sales in June?
Three experts spoke to the Washington Blade to address these and other questions.
Andrew Isen is founder and president of WinMark Concepts, a firm that provides marketing services targeting LGBTQ audiences and customers, primarily for large publicly traded companies. Todd Evans is president and CEO of Rivendell Media, a firm that coordinates and manages advertising and marketing campaigns that are run in LGBTQ media. And Jack Mackinnon is senior director of cultural insights at Collage Group, a consumer research firm whose customers include many of the world's biggest and best-known brands.
False claims on social media that an item in Target's seasonal Pride collection – a "tuck-friendly" swimsuit – was offered in children's sizes led to in-store confrontations that prompted the retailer to respond by moving merchandise to the back of stores and off the floor in some rural southern locations.
The controversy illustrates the unpredictability and arbitrariness of online flare-ups targeting individual companies, often driven partially or entirely by misinformation, the sources agreed.
"We are literally jumping from crisis to crisis to crisis," Isen said, adding "we are in uncharted territory" where companies are "unable to foretell on an hourly basis what will blow up on social media," and responding effectively is made more difficult when the claims at issue are "patently untrue."
As a result, "there is a real reticence to move forward" on outreach to the LGBTQ community "until things work themselves out," Isen said. Companies are now struggling with balancing their obligations to LGBTQ customers and their corporate shareholders, he said.
Evans said part of the problem is proportionality. Pressures from a small and vocal contingent of anti-LGBTQ consumers are amplified by unregulated social media platforms, he noted.
For example, he said, "One Million Moms," a division of the American Family Association that is known for demanding boycotts against companies that have embraced the LGBTQ community, only has a few thousand Twitter followers.
Isen and Evans said that while brands have long been attacked for publicly embracing the LGBTQ community, the controversy over Bud Light's social media spot featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney marked a tipping point because of the resulting harm to parent company Anheuser-Busch's bottom line.
Negative ramifications would have been thwarted, Isen said, had the company not reacted with a defensive posture by issuing a statement that "we never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people."
"There's no PR professional that would have recommended" Anheuser-Busch respond in the way that it did, agreed Evans.
To the extent that firms can anticipate when they may encounter anti-LGBTQ backlash, the sources agreed it is generally directed at the transgender community and anything involving minors – as seen in the rise in attacks against all-ages drag performances, for instance, and legislation targeting the rights of trans Americans, especially youth.
Evans said transphobia is part of a broader reactionary moment in American politics that presents a threat to the entire LGBTQ community and "anybody else who is different." Isen noted the political climate has been defined by a right-wing crusade against "wokeness" led by the likes of Florida's Republican Gov. and 2024 presidential contender Ron DeSantis.
Mackinnon, however, said the anti-trans backlash is distinct. "Other LGBTQ+ issues like gay marriage are not very controversial" from a marketing and advertising perspective, but there has been a shift in recent years as "people starting to think about transgender issues on a higher level," he said.
Misinformation can be weaponized and exploited to a greater extent when it concerns gender issues about which many Americans are still unfamiliar, Mackinnon said.
As they approach any business decision concerning advertising or outreach to the LGBTQ community, the sources agreed the Bud Light dustup may offer important lessons for companies moving forward into Pride month and beyond.
When the beermaker approached Mulvaney, "the decision to engage her was done for business reasons," Isen said, as the company saw a valuable opportunity to tap into a broader market of young potential customers. The influencer "has a demographic following that fit perfectly into a market expansion opportunity for the brand that was in double digit decline."
The company's response, he said, was a problem because Anheuser-Busch seemed to characterize its work with Mulvaney as, instead, a cultural outreach effort – which rang insincere and "alienated the entire LGBTQ community, bar owners in the trade, and consumers."
"Had they stood firm and said, ‘we made a calculated business decision to engage this social influencer as we have thousands of other social influencers,’ it would have been a different story," Isen said.
Anheuser-Busch's major miscalculation was failing to build a relationship with its LGBTQ customers who might otherwise be inclined to forgive the company's decision to back down to pressure from anti-trans extremists "with its delayed response and then a really unthoughtful response," Evans said. Engendering goodwill with the community is crucial, he said.
"This is a brand that was not necessarily known for [LGBTQ] outreach in their marketing," Mackinnon said, "so when they partnered – in a very small way, by the way – and dabbled in a partnership with [Mulvaney], that caught some people by surprise, potentially, and they put themselves in an awkward position to explain what it was that they were doing."
As a result, he said, for many people Anheuser-Busch's business decision to work with Mulvaney seemed insincere or opportunistic.
Mackinnon said consumer research indicates that young people, especially, are inclined to research individual companies to assess the extent to which their support for inclusivity is sincere and baked into their corporate governance, rather than performative and motivated entirely by profit chasing.
As an example, Mackinnon pointed to cases where, following the murder of George Floyd, firms expressed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, only to face criticism when customers discovered the lack of diversity in their boards of directors.
"Brands should be thinking about not [just] what should my campaign be for this June, but where do we want to be in terms of building trust six months from now, a year from now, five years from now," Mackinnon said.
"Most of that work is quiet and under the surface and behind the scenes, and it is essential for building a platform and a framework and a foundation to have any other effective types of campaigns," he said.
Part of this strategy should also include clear and consistent messaging on online platforms, which Mackinnon said can act as an effective bulwark against the spread of misinformation targeting companies.
"A brand that is investing in transgender, LGBTQ+ consumers," he said, must "be ready to know how to explain [those investments] and how to combat that misinformation" with quick, simple responses provided in real time.
Used properly, Mackinnon said, social media can be an effective tool for firms to build trust – allowing for opportunities to engage in discussions and storytelling in a conversational fashion not afforded by other forms of corporate communication.
The ascendency of transphobia and anti-LGBTQ sentiment comes as Americans’ faith in institutions – politics, traditional media, scientific and medical expertise – continues to plummet.
These conditions have primed consumers to "look to brands to speak to these issues," Mackinnon said, "not to, like, heal the world, but to operate as influencers on the issues that are front-of-mind for people."
Companies might, then, see not just a set of challenges but also valuable opportunities for LGBTQ outreach during Pride month. Acting thoughtfully, these firms might maximize their market caps for the month of June without alienating their LGBTQ customers while also, potentially, helping to facilitate a world in which more Americans might be down to have a beer with a trans neighbor or bring their kids to a drag performance.
Chris Christie, Mike Pence officially enter 2024 presidential race
HRC declares national emergency over anti-LGBTQ laws
Celebrating Pride feels like a necessary act of defiance & rebellion
Anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian activist Pat Robertson dies
Missouri Governor Parson signs anti-trans legislation
When a gunman killed 60 people and wounded hundreds more in Las Vegas in 2017, Robertson blamed "disrespect" for then-President Donald Trump
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Anti-LGBTQ Christian-media mogul, televangelist, conservative political activist, and evangelical Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson died at 93, representatives from his Christian Broadcasting Network confirmed on Thursday.
A public figure who was active in American politics since the 1960s, Robertson became as known for making Christianity central to the Republican Party as he was for his outrageously offensive comments targeting LGBTQ people as well as Haitians, Black People, Muslims, Jewish people, Buddhists, and many others.
Likely one of the ugliest hate-mongering statements he made, and which especial condemnation was leveled at him, occurred in the aftermath of the June 12, 2016, massacre when 49 LGBTQ+ people were killed at Pulse, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by a shooter who’d pledged allegiance to a radical form of Islam.
Robertson told viewers on his religious 700 Club broadcast the following day that Americans should just let LGBTQ+ people and Muslims kill each other:
"The left is having a dilemma of major proportions, and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves," he said.
"Worst Vice President for LGBTQ People In Modern History," the HRC chronicled a list of Pence's anti-LGBTQ actions
WASHINGTON – During a town hall event Tuesday in New Hampshire and in a launch video released Wednesday morning, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Vice President Mike Pence (R) entered the 2024 presidential race.
For years, both were staunch allies of the current Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, breaking with him only after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which came after Pence's refusal to overturn the 2020 election results and prompted Christie to declare Trump unfit for a second term.
Echoing other critical comments he has made in recent months, the former governor's announcement Tuesday directly took aim at Trump, "a lonely, self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog" who "is not a leader."
For his part, Pence neither mentioned Trump by name nor included any photos or video footage of the former president in his announcement video, acknowledging him only indirectly by asserting that "different times call for different leadership."
Christie, Pence, and Trump will also be squaring off against several other Republican candidates in the GOP presidential primary: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also served in the Trump administration, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, talk radio host Larry Elder, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
An evangelical born-again Christian, Pence has opposed LGBTQ rights stridently and consistently throughout his career in politics as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, as governor of Indiana, and then as vice president.
Declaring him the "Worst Vice President for LGBTQ People In Modern History," the Human Rights Campaign chronicled a list of Pence's anti-LGBTQ actions and statements over the years, including his endorsement of conversion therapy and opposition to hate crime laws for their inclusion of violence motivated by animus toward the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.
In February, a group formed by Pence and financed by his supporters ran ads in Iowa to rally conservative opposition to pro-trans policies in schools.
By contrast, Christie has a far more moderate record with respect to LGBTQ matters. "If someone is born that way, it's very difficult to say then that that's a sin," he said in 2013, while signing New Jersey's ban on conversion therapy.
The GLAAD Accountability Project, however, notes Christie's veto of a bill in 2014 that would have allowed trans people in the state to change the gender designation listed on their birth certificates. The group also highlighted his veto of a marriage equality bill in 2012.
71% of Americans including majorities of voters across the political spectrum — support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples
SACRAMENTO – Marking the beginning of Pride Month, California state lawmakers in the Assembly and the Senate introduced language on Monday to amend the state's constitution to protect marriage equality for all.
Although marriage equality for same-sex couples has been the law of the land in California since the Supreme Court's June 2013 ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry, California's constitution still contains outdated and discriminatory language from Proposition 8 stating that same-sex couples are not allowed to marry.
"Marriage equality is a fundamental right and voters deserve the opportunity to remove a black mark from the California constitution," said Assemblymember Evan Low, a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus and a co-author of the legislation.
The proposed constitutional amendment, ACA 5, is authored by Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is supported by the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and dozens of lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate.
The constitutional amendment would amend the California Constitution to protect the fundamental freedom to marry as part of existing rights to enjoy life and liberty, pursue happiness and privacy, and not be denied due process or equal protection. These protections would help to safeguard against any future attempts to restrict marriage rights for same-sex or interracial couples.
"Although, same-sex marriage is legal, it could be temporary. We have to remain vigilant, unwavering in our dedication to equality. Together, we can reinforce the importance of love, acceptance, and inclusivity. Our journey towards true equality is not over, and this is a foundational step in making progress and change here in the Golden State," Low noted.
ACA 5 requires two-thirds vote in each chamber of the California Legislature and will then be referred to voters for approval in the November 2024 general election. Notably, 31 Senators and 42 Assemblymembers have already signed on as co-authors of the legislation, including the Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and the Assembly Speaker Designate Robert Rivas (D-Hollister).
71% of Americans — an all-time high, including majorities of voters across the political spectrum — support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
The sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ+ laws spawned a dizzying patchwork of discrimination that created increasingly hostile & dangerous environments
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ people in the United States, "following an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year."
America's largest LGBTQ organization, which has never before made such an announcement in its 40+-year history, also featured findings from its new report, LGBTQ+ Americans Under Attack, which "details more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been signed into law this year alone, more than doubling last year's number, which was previously the worst year on record."
In a press release, HRC explained, "The sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ+ measures has spawned a dizzying patchwork of discriminatory state laws that have created increasingly hostile and dangerous environments for LGBTQ people, prompting HRC today to also issue a national warning and downloadable guidebook for the LGBTQ+ community. "
These include resources for health and safety, "a summary of state-by-state laws, ‘know your rights’ information, and information designed to support LGBTQ+ travelers as well as those already living in hostile states."
For the first time ever, we're declaring a national state of emergency as LGBTQ+ Americans face extremist attempts to roll back our rights. It's more important than ever we have the necessary resources to stay safe no matter where we are. https://t.co/EcnZgqDDCp pic.twitter.com/q0axEWCM1N
"LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency," HRC President Kelley Robinson said in a statement.
"The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived — they are real, tangible and dangerous," she said. "In many cases they are resulting in violence against LGBTQ+ people, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states, and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk."
Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?" asked Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
SACRAMENTO – The Office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta acknowledged to reporters that a second chartered plane full of migrants arrived in Sacramento on Monday morning. Officials say the transportation was again arranged by the state of Florida.
This latest prompting Governor Gavin Newsom to escalate his war of words with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, threatening to charge his fellow governor with a crime.
".@RonDeSantis you small, pathetic man. This isn't Martha's Vineyard. Kidnapping charges? Read the following. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=207.&lawCode=PEN" Newsom tweeted.
.@RonDeSantis you small, pathetic man.This isn't Martha's Vineyard.Kidnapping charges?Read the following. https://t.co/kvuxe8Fb6F pic.twitter.com/KyE1lJiIYo
Tara Gallegos, a spokesperson for Attorney General Bonta, told reporters the migrants’ paperwork indicated they were transported through a program run by Florida's Division of Emergency Management and carried out by contractor Vertol Systems Co.
This is the same firm paid $1.56 million by Florida officials last year to fly migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, and for a possible second flight to Delaware that never took place, which Governor Newsom referenced when he tweeted about it earlier on Monday.
The Associated Press noted that neither Vertol Systems nor DeSantis’ office responded to requests for comment. Alecia Collins, a spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which oversees Florida's migrant flights program, said in an email Monday that she couldn't immediately confirm whether the agency was involved in this latest instance.
A statement from Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg showed the frustration and anger with DeSantis’ tactics: Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?"
"There is zero evidence that this is remotely true in any sense and it's horrific that Nikki Haley is espousing this view"
DES MOINES – Veteran CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper moderated a wide ranging live CNN Republican Presidential Town Hall with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on Sunday in Iowa's capital city.
Tapper had asked about her feelings on "woke" when the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations suddenly pivoted to an attack on transgender teens. "How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms?" Haley asked. "And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year."
"I want everybody to live the way they want to live," she continued. "But stop pushing your views on everybody else, that's the problem."
Conflating the two separate issues according to Washington, D.C. based Rotimi Adeoye, a spokesperson for the ACLU is wrong. "There is zero evidence that this is remotely true in any sense and it's horrific that Nikki Haley is espousing this view. This furthers dangerous anti-trans ideologies that could hurt people."
There is zero evidence that this is remotely true in any sense and it's horrific that Nikki Haley is espousing this view. This furthers dangerous anti-trans ideologies that could hurt people. https://t.co/4X0qo0Ymi1
In a recent study released on April 28, 2023 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one third of female students in 2021 reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the 12 months before the survey. Researchers also found that in addition, prevalence was significantly higher among LGBQ+ female students, lesbian or gay; 2.60 bisexual; 1.80 questioning; 2.40 trans or other) compared with heterosexual students
However there was zero correlation or facts to substantiate Haley's claims.
The Republican hopeful was one of the declared presidential candidates to make appearances over the weekend with the exception of former President Donald Trump.
Immigrants were carrying documentation purported to be from the State of Florida according to the Attorney General's office
SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Governor Gavin Newsom expressed outrage after a group of 16 migrants were transported by a private chartered jet from Texas via New Mexico and were left at the doorstep of the offices of the Sacramento Catholic Diocese on Friday.
"Today Attorney General Rob Bonta and I met with over a dozen migrants in Sacramento, Governor Newsom said in a news release. "These individuals were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning."
"We are working closely with the Mayor's office, along with local and nonprofit partners to ensure the people who have arrived are treated with respect and dignity, and get to their intended destination as they pursue their immigration cases. My Administration is also working with the California Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group's travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping," the Governor said.
The Attorney General said in a separate statement:
"Today I met with over a dozen migrants who were brought to Sacramento by private plane, with no prior arrangement or care in place," said Bonta. "We are investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California. We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants. While this is still under investigation, we can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida.
"While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting. We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings. California and the Sacramento community will welcome these individuals with open arms and provide them with the respect, compassion, and care they will need after such a harrowing experience," Bonta added.
Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento noted: "Within each of the 16 migrants transported to Sacramento on Friday we recognize the humble presence of Jesus, and we hear His call to stand by them. The urgency to respond was heard by Catholics and people of good will. We are thankful to our partner organizations who took up the holy work of hospitality, dedicating their time and resources to ensure that every migrant did not feel alone and abandoned."
According to Diocese officials, the migrants arrived with everything they own stuffed in their backpacks. Migrant rights advocates say that the sixteen Venezuelan and Colombian nationals were lied to and intentionally deceived.
Eddie Carmona, campaign director at PICO California, a faith-based community organizing group that has been assisting the migrants told the Associated Press that the migrants had already been processed by U.S. immigration officials and given court dates for their asylum cases when "individuals representing a private contractor" approached them outside a migrant center in El Paso, Texas, Carmona said. They offered to help the migrants get jobs and get them to their final destination, he said.
"They were lied to and intentionally deceived," Carmona said, adding that the migrants had no idea where they were after being dropped off in Sacramento.
Late Sunday the Los Angeles Times reported the documents appear to show that the flights were arranged through the Florida Division of Emergency Management and that it was part of the state's migrant transportation program, according to a spokesperson with the attorney general's office who did not want to be identified.
Musk's 18-year-old trans daughter had filed papers in court to legally change her first and last name and request a new birth certificate
SAN FRANCISCO – Elon Musk started Pride Month with a series of transphobic tweets that constitute his most extreme attacks agains the community to-date and included a pledge on Thursday that he will be "actively lobbying to criminalize" healthcare interventions for transgender youth.
Also on Thursday, Musk responded "Totally agree" to a tweet from a trans-exclusionary LGB account that said, "LGB don't even want Pride month anymore. We just want to be separated from the TQ+."
And then on Friday, the Twitter owner intervened on behalf of anti-trans pundit Matt Walsh when the platform took steps to limit the reach of his "documentary" attacking the community, and then he re-tweeted Walsh's video.
The New Republic named Walsh "Transphobe of the Year" in 2022, noting that he stood out in a crowded field of hate purveyors, having "raised his profile by spreading grotesque conspiracy theories about grooming" and pedophilia in the LGBTQ community."
Responding to Musk's promise to fight for the criminalization of gender affirming care, anti-trans conservative media commentator and University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson tweeted, "Prison. Long term. Without Parole. No Mercy. And maybe for the compliant ‘therapists’ and the butchers they enable." Musk replied, "Absolutely."
Medical societies that develop and publish clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minor patients do not generally recommend genital surgeries before the age of 18.
Access to the interventions proscribed in these guidelines, which are supported by every mainstream scientific and medical body, have been shown to dramatically reduce rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicides among trans youth. Studies show rates of post-treatment regret are exceedingly rare.
Musk has long been known as an online provocateur, often taking aim at institutions like Hollywood, big businesses, and the mainstream news media that he believes promote a left-leaning agenda without providing room for dissenting voices.
However, the tech billionaire has increasingly aligned himself with more extreme right-wing politics and conservative political figures like Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who launched his 2024 presidential campaign last week with a Twitter Spaces discussion hosted by Musk just days after signing some of the most extreme anti-trans laws of any state in the country.
Likewise with his public statements concerning the transgender community. A few years ago, Musk courted controversy for mocking and complaining about the practice of calling trans and nonbinary people by their preferred pronouns. This week's anti-trans tirade was markedly more extreme.
Last year, Insider noted Musk's comments about gender pronouns in its coverage of a Reuters report that the South African born entrepreneur's 18-year-old transgender daughter had filed papers in a California court to legally change her first and last name and request a new birth certificate.
Per Reuters, the teen said that she no longer wished to be "related to my biological father in any way, shape or form."
A month later, the elder Musk publicly declared his support for the Republican Party. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said the reason for his estrangement from his daughter was "full on communism" in elite colleges and universities.
New York's first openly gay member of Congress, he finished his fifth term as chair of the DCCC before narrowly losing his bid for reelection
WASHINGTON – The White House on Thursday officially announced the nomination of former Democratic congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York to serve as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's U.S. representative with the rank of ambassador.
Since February 2022, former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has represented U.S. before the OECD, an intergovernmental body with 38 member countries founded to promote economic progress and stimulate world trade.
Along with Maloney's nomination to replace him, Markell's nomination last month to serve as ambassador to Italy is now pending before the Senate.
New York's first openly gay member of Congress, Maloney finished his fifth term as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Party's sixth highest-ranking position in the House, before narrowly losing his bid for reelection in 2022.
Maloney was credited with helping to secure the Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the midterm elections but lost his own race by just 1,800 votes after New York's 17th Congressional District was redrawn
The deal leaves neither side happy with the outcome. With today's action the volatile debt ceiling issue has been pushed back until 2025
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate passed the debt ceiling and budget cuts package negotiated between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a late night session Thursday. After four months of contentious debate between Republicans and the White House, a large bipartisan majority of the Senate voted 63-36 to approve the bill, which passed the House on Wednesday night.
The deal leaves neither Republicans nor Democrats happy with the outcome. With today's action and once the president signs the measure, the volatile debt ceiling issue that risked imploding the U.S. and global economy, has been pushed back until 2025 – after the next U.S. presidential election. Had the American nation defaulted it would have triggered a global recession and the loss of millions of jobs.
In a speech on the Senate floor after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told the chamber, "By passing this bill we will avoid default tonight. America can breathe a sigh of relief. "From the start, avoiding default has been our north star. The consequences of default would be catastrophic," he said. "For all the ups and downs and twists and turns it took to get here, it is so good for this country that both parties have come together at last to avoid default," Schumer added.
The Hill reported that four Democrats voted against the measure: Sens. John Fetterman (Pa.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), along with Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Joining a total of 31 Republicans who also voted against the measure.
The Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) labeled the deal package a major win for Republicans.
"I think Speaker McCarthy should be congratulated on capturing a number of priorities," McConnell said, pointing out that Congress enacted approximately $2.7 trillion in new spending on party-line votes when Democrats were in full control in 2021 and 2022.
"So, we’ve gone from one party spending $2.7 trillion in two years to a discussion about actually reducing government spending. So, I think the American people's decision to change House has already yielded benefits for our country," he said.
"All Americans should be offended by the manufactured crisis and hostage taking by Republicans threatening our nation's economy, but the consequences of defaulting on our debt are too severe and would disproportionately fall on working class and low-income families. We cannot allow our country to default on its debt," said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) "While not ideal, this agreement protects our nation's historic economic recovery and the progress we’ve secured over the past two years through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats prevented Republican-proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare programs that the American people have worked for, paid for, and rely on to survive," the senator noted.
"And while I am pleased that the deal expands nutrition assistance to veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and former foster youth, I’m disappointed that Republicans continue to target programs that have kept families in need from going hungry—all under the pretext of insufficient work requirements. Republicans were more than willing to allow a catastrophic default that would have put millions of Americans out of work and decimated retirement savings. With today's vote, the Senate thankfully helped avoid disaster, but it should have never come to this point," Padilla added.
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